THE BLOG

Where Is The Homeless Capital of America?

03/02/2014 04:10 pm ET | Updated May 02, 2014

For years, officials have dubbed the city of Los Angeles the "homeless capital" of America. They used the
total number of homeless for the entire County of Los Angeles, that includes 87 other cities plus the city of LA, as their scorecard.

People in other cities, however, have disagreed. On Trip Advisor,Portland was called the homeless capital. Others have given San Francisco this distinction. A city councilman
in Dallas thinks his city could be the homeless
capital. And besides Los Angeles, there is New York City as a contender
for the title of homeless capital of America.

So who has this sad distinction? Let's look at some different approaches to score this.

Total Number of People Who Are Homeless.
The HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) 2013 report to the U.S. Congress stated that New York City (with 64,060 people who are homeless) was
the top city for homelessness, followed by Los Angeles County (53,798). This LA number, however, did not include three cities within the county that
counted on their own. The total LA County number is actually 58,423. Winner: New York City

Total Number of People on The Streets.
Offical homeless counts include people in shelters, in uninhabitable places (like cars), and on the streets. The total HUD number reflects all of these
people. If we were to look just at the unsheltered homeless population, then the city of Los Angeles would be on top with 25,136 people living on its
streets. Of New York City's homeless population, more than 50,000 are living in shelters. Winner: Los Angeles County

Highest Percent Increase of Homelessness.
Since the previous homeless count in 2011, the City of New York increased their homeless population by 25 percent. Los Angeles increased by 16 percent from 2011 to 2013. Surprisingly, however, these two
cities do not report the highest increase. The entire state of North Dakota reported a dramatic increase in
homelessness from 2012 to 2013 by a whopping 200.7 percent increase. Winner: North Dakota

Highest Percent of Homeless Among General Population.
Some people claim that it is not fair to compare mega-cities and their millions of people with smaller cities. Of course, mega-cities will have a higher
number of people who are homeless.

Instead, let's compare the percent of homeless among the total population. The County of San Diego, California has 8,879 people who are homeless but their
homeless population only consists of 0.28 percent of the total population. Seattle and King County is the third highest total homeless population in the country
with 9,106 people, but their ratio is only 0.45 percent. The mega-city of Los Angeles has 58,000 homeless, and their ratio is 0.58 percent. The city with the highest
number of homeless, however, also has the highest ratio of homeless to their total population. New York City has a ratio of 0.77 percent. Winner: New York City

So, who is the winner of this sad human tragedy? Who should be deemed the homeless capital of America? Given the assessment listed above, the Big Apple takes the crown away from the City of Angels.

But should we be really calling this competition a derby for winners? Sadly, the real losers in this country's breakdown of social care are the people who
are still struggling on our streets. No matter what city or state they reside.